BORDERS MSP Rachael Hamilton says that she has received ‘hundreds of letters’ from Borderers concerned about the Scottish Government’s Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill’s unintended consequences for rural livelihoods.

And she shared their concerns during a Holyrood debate on the Bill last week when MSPs debated the implications of the Bill for animal welfare, pest control and biodiversity.

This Bill replaces the 2002 Act. It will still be an offence to hunt a wild mammal using a dog except in limited circumstances. For example, hunting with dogs may be allowed to prevent the spread of disease or to protect other animals if the activity meets the requirements in the Bill about how it is done. However, it will always be illegal to chase and kill a wild mammal using a dog.

Where hunting is allowed, the Bill introduces new limits on the number of dogs that can be used. In some circumstances, people may be able to get a licence to use more dogs.

The Bill also bans trail hunting except in limited circumstances. Trail hunting is when a dog is used to find and follow an animal-based scent.

The General Principles were agreed to by all but one MSP, although it is expected that those critical of the Bill will bring forward a raft of amendments in the coming weeks.

Ms Hamilton said: “It was important to highlight the concerns of Borderers and rural workers across Scotland about this Bill.

“There is a real danger that the unintended consequences of the Bill will damage their livelihoods.

“As I pointed out in the debate on Tuesday, the SNP Government simply fail to understand the needs of rural Scotland.

“As an MSP for a largely rural constituency here in the Borders, I share the concerns of rural workers that this Bill, as it is currently drafted, could do irreparable damage to rural livelihoods.

“I strongly believe in improving animal welfare while maintaining the practical methods of pest control that this Bill could harm if unamended.

“I will be working hard to bring forward amendments to this Bill to ensure we can protect our wildlife, livestock and rural livelihoods across the Scottish Borders.”